When it comes to X-Mas all my readers know I am more than a little sentimental. Whether its the music, the food, or the Christmas catalogues, we all know the selfish side of us love one thing…THE GIFTS!! The old saying goes “It is better to Give Than Receive..” we all know its pretty damn cool to receive as well! This December my family have a very important date planned to share a fun event and that on December 18th. The 18th and not the 25th you may ask? That’s not Christmas you say..whats so important about December 18th? I call it a Geeks Christmas as fans worldwide will finally go to theaters to watch the debut of Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens! Select members of our esteemed SBTU Crew have gathered around the Satellite Holo-tree and share our memories of a Galaxy Far Far Away… Pour Up some Egg Nog Heroes, and join us as we raise a Holiday Glass to Star Wars!
Begin Transmission: Dec 16th 2015
As a child Star Wars was more than a movie. It occupied a large portion of my childhood through Movies, Comics, and our topic today the Original Toy-Line! Many an hour was spent playing with these little plastic toys and their very cool accessories and vehicles creating my own episodes of the Star Wars Saga! Well in 1977 the Kenner Toy Company was more than willing to fill kids wishes in the valued 4th Quarter and as the holiday season approached Star Wars was at a fever pitch. Kenner was primed to deliver a massive influx of cash towards their companies bottom line and win the Christmas season. They would be conquering heroes of the lucrative Toy Market…then it happened. The production team could not deliver the toys to market in time for the Golden Holiday Season. In an act of desperation Kenner created the Early Bird Package. Yes under the tree at Christmas Star Wars fans in 77 opened ……(Drum Roll Please!!) an ENVELOPE!!!??
Kenner could not deliver the figures but to pad their losses they went for a “Made” money approach. Customers would be “promised” the action figures later in 1978 if they purchased the Early Bird Certificate Package. The package would include 4 items including a Certificate that you would have to mail in that was good for 4 Star Wars figures that would be mailed to your home between Feb. 1st 1978 – July 1st 1978.
So you may ask what was a kid supposed to do with a stupid Early Bird Certificate? There were a series of steps involved.
- Open your Certificate Envelope.
Fill out your Name and Address on BOTH portions of the Early Bird Certificate!
2. Tear Off Your Proof Of Purchase Card, write the date you mailed your Star Wars figures and store it in your records.
3. Set Up your STAR WARS Display Diorama that is included in the set! I will admit. I was a sucker for displays and playset’s especially when it comes to STAR WARS toys! The Display set itself was cheap but pretty nice! Collectors still struggle to find these in great condition and that is part of the charm of being an Early Bird Customer!
4. Next. Enjoy your enclosed set of STAR WARS Stickers! The detailing on the stickers were a little lackluster. It is clear that Kenner was struggling to rush something…anything, to market that Christmas in 77.
Once you have mailed off your certificate…all you had to do now was….WAIT. Fortunately for Kenner they were able to meet the deadline and there were no further delays and the very FIRST STAR WARS FIGURES ARRIVED in Feburary of 1978!!
The Figures came shipped with a Thank You card, a white packaging tray and action figure stand tabs to insert into the base of the diorama display set included in the early bird package. As the saying goes “Good Things Come To Those Who Wait” applies to this situation as folks who were fortunate enough to purchase this Early Bird Package received possibly one of the most coveted Action Figure in the history of Action Figure Collecting! That figure would be the Double Telescoping Lightsaber Luke Skywalker. This figure is so rare that it was even featured on a recent episode of AMC’s Comic Book Men!
As cool as it sounded have a lightsaber tip that extended much further than many other of the like models of that particular original Luke. However it was disheartening to know it was very poorly crafted and the tip itself often bent easily making your lightsaber look very stupid. Check poor Luke above.
Included in the early Bird set as well was a not quite as rare as the Luke mentioned above) was a unique Chewbacca with a Greenish tinted molded Bow Blaster rifle was shipped with all early shipments of this set making it a very sought after variant! True fan boy collectors know that the early bird set with variant Luke and Chewie is a rare gem in the collecting universe!
While I did NOT have the good fortune of buying the Early Bird Packages in 1977 (I was only 3!!) I did however have the complete set of original action figures and still boast 75% of them to this day! Nothing were quite like the original toys.Yes they had far less articulation than their modern day relatives but they represented a changing of the guard in the action figure industry. The figure market that was previously dominated by bigger versions of action toys like the old 12 inch G.I. Joe figures as well as the middle sized and super fun MEGO collections popular in that day were replaced with the official dawn of the 3 3/4 era action figures when Star Wars fever hit!
Of course I was a collector who on every possible allowable occasion would get one of these gems at the store. I was too young to enjoy the Early Bird experience however, by the time the Empire Collection arrived this Hero was in full Star Wars Collecting Beast Mode!
At this point in the 80s however, leaving your figures mint on card was not an option, so all of my toys were open and well played with especially the Star Wars originals! I had plenty of vehicles and play-sets to go along with my figures so I basically felt like I had my own galaxy! I had an X-Wing, Darth Vader Tie Fighter, the AT-AT Walker, Boba Fett’s Slave 1,and many more! As for Play-Sets, I was fortunate enough to acquire Hoth, Cloud City, Dagobah, Jabbas Palace and the Grand Daddy of them all The Millenium Falcon! Of course as discussed in a previous Satellite post about my favorite Christmas Gifts I also had The Death Star!! Overtime..things broke, pieces went missing, poorly conceived trades occurred and my collection slowly died.
My collecting twilight was in my adulthood just at the time that it was announced that the Prequel movies were being released. The much maligned Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace was on its way and fans worldwide were exploding with anticipation as I was! I began re-building my collection. eBay was in its infancy and many folks didnt truly know how to post auctions and occasionally a seller would post something under a weird category and literally get zero interest. As was the case with an original Star Wars Action Figure collection. Like a speculative comics fan in the 90s who thought they would send their kids to college with their fortune they would amass after selling their collection I lucked into a carded original Star Wars Action figure set of 7 figures and bought them all for 10 dollars!! The figures were improperly categorized under “Dolls”and as a result I was able to jump start my collection!
From there I regained a Millenium Falcon, a AT AT Walker, new models of Star Destroyers, X-Wings, Tie Fighters, I even completed my Marvel Comics Star Wars collection and added a horde of new mint on card action figures! I even built myself my own collection room and filled it with mostly Star Wars merchandise! The ultimate geek cave was born!
All would change one fateful day when I returned home from work and I entered my home through the downstairs entrance of my split level rental home. I noticed a piece of cardboard that looked like a toy package on the floor.I thought little of it as my kid always came away with a new toy when we visited the store and often would not wait until he actually got in the house to rip open his new toy! This was not out of character for our family so I did not give the packaging DNA evidence a second thought. As I walked the hallway to go upstairs to our main living space I noticed more packaging debris..that led to the closed door of my Toy room! I opened the door and to my complete horror ALL of my action figures were missing from the walls of the room..instead in the middle of the space was a mound of shredded packaging. My eyes surveyed the room as shock turned to anger and on my office desk where my Millenium Falcon usually proudly displayed was absent as well. The crown jewel had been stolen…I had a suspicion of what happened. This was not the work of an intruder..this type of carnage could only have come from a child..MY CHILD..my 3 year old son..who happened to be a big Star Wars fan and had his own great Phantom Menace action figure collection. As I gritted my teeth and exited the scene of the crime, I turned and stormed out of the room and headed upstairs where I heard the familiar chatter of my wife and children.As I walked up the stairs, inching savagely forward to the top level, one glance to the right I caught the culprit red handed!!
There, in the middle of my living room was my 3 year old son proudly swooshing a fully loaded Millenium Falcon in the air with a giant smile on his face completely lost in play! I looked in the kitchen just off the living room area where my wife looked out and simply said “He got into your room…” that was it. My anger at this point was at a terrible boil and I turned again to somehow rescue the remnants of my collection as my son set the Falcon down on the living room table and grabbed more figures still enthralled with his own little universe and with that I was disarmed. A flashback of my younger self reminded me of the sheer joy of playing with my toys and seeing him having that same experience actually made me happy. I was suddenly at peace with the fact that my kid was enjoying the exact same toys that I grew up on and you know that changes a guy. Many years of Father-Son Star Wars play would result and at that exact moment I grew up. I was no longer that adult who beat the kids to the store to clean out the toy shelves so I could add a rare piece to the walls of my man cave. I appreciated what it meant to be a kid who loved Star Wars and really THAT is one of those moments where you just know “The kids (MY Kids in particular!) will be alright!”
So just two days out from December 18th my family and I have a stack of movie tickets to Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens and that former 3 year old son is now 15 and cannot wait to see the newest Star Wars film. My wife is also a pretty darn big Disney fan who enjoys a yearly trek to Disney World in Orlando to attend Star Wars Weekends and gets just as excited as the boys to meet the characters! Her Facebook profile is of her wearing her Star Wars T-Shirt posing with Chewbacca! Hows that for geek love..how can you not love a woman like that!! Then on my other side is my latest child who is six and during his many visits to Disney has defeated Darth Vader twice and Darth Maul in his last outings at Jedi Academy Training at Disney World. He is a fan as well with a great Lego Star Wars collection plus the family inheritance of the remaining portions of our collection!! I feel I have become Ghost Obi-Wan, My 15 Year Old Son is now Jedi Luke, and my youngest Offspring is Finn!! Generations of Star Wars love…The Force Is Strong in our Family..My Wife has it..My Children have it…and by god..I STILL HAVE IT!!
Well this is where I stop and get off..it has been my honor to share the passion I have for a Galaxy Far Far Away and all the characters that I really love to this day. I hope that tonight you and your significant others turn on one of these movies and you enjoy it as much as a fanboy I once knew in the early 80s whose every minute held his Luke Skywalker figure close and imagination ran wild!
For MORE Super-Hero Satellite Star Wars fun read all past Star Wars posts from yours Truly, The Charlton Hero! Enjoy!
Be sure to check out the rest of the Super Hero Satellites own Star Wars related posts!!
May The Force Be With You!!
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